The fine-tune: Meet top composers from the videogame world | Hindustan Times
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The fine-tune: Meet top composers from the videogame world

Updated On Jan 13, 2023 05:57 PM IST

Videogame soundtracks have come a long way from the early blips and beeps. Today, there are still the nostalgic chiptunes reminiscent of the 1990s, but also complicated musical scores by influential composers, and soundtracks that live rent-free in our heads. Take a tour.

1 / 10
Tomohiro Nishikado of Space Invaders (1978): In addition to designing and programming the game, the Japanese engineer also did the artwork and sounds for the arcade game. It went on to become the first videogame with a continuous soundtrack (four descending notes that sped up as the enemy approached). It was the first in-game sound that interacted with player to create an atmosphere that propelled action. (Shutterstock) expand-icon View Photos in a new improved layout
Updated on Jan 13, 2023 05:57 PM IST

Tomohiro Nishikado of Space Invaders (1978): In addition to designing and programming the game, the Japanese engineer also did the artwork and sounds for the arcade game. It went on to become the first videogame with a continuous soundtrack (four descending notes that sped up as the enemy approached). It was the first in-game sound that interacted with player to create an atmosphere that propelled action. (Shutterstock)

2 / 10
Koji Kondo of Super Mario (1985): In 1984, this visionary Japanese composer was hired by Nintendo. Within a year, Kondo had created masterpieces for Super Mario, working out an upbeat, almost swing-like melody, using three notes at a time. For the underwater sections, where Mario swam through enemy territory, there was a lighter waltz. And throughout the Overworld, as Mario collected coins, there was the triumphant metallic ping. These tunes are still in use and widely recognized today. (HT Archive) expand-icon View Photos in a new improved layout
Updated on Jan 13, 2023 05:57 PM IST

Koji Kondo of Super Mario (1985): In 1984, this visionary Japanese composer was hired by Nintendo. Within a year, Kondo had created masterpieces for Super Mario, working out an upbeat, almost swing-like melody, using three notes at a time. For the underwater sections, where Mario swam through enemy territory, there was a lighter waltz. And throughout the Overworld, as Mario collected coins, there was the triumphant metallic ping. These tunes are still in use and widely recognized today. (HT Archive)

3 / 10
Yasunori Mitsuda of Chrono Trigger (1995): The Japanese composer is best known for his work on the soundtrack of the role-playing game Chrono Trigger, Xenogears (1998) and Chrono Cross (1999). He is famous for the use of minimalism in his music. Inspired by Celtic and Japanese traditions, folk and jazz, many of his tunes merge cultures with just a few chords. His compositions frequently involve the use of the tabla, sitar, and Japanese shakuhachi flutes, and have been recreated at concerts around the world. (Procyon Studio) expand-icon View Photos in a new improved layout
Updated on Jan 13, 2023 05:57 PM IST

Yasunori Mitsuda of Chrono Trigger (1995): The Japanese composer is best known for his work on the soundtrack of the role-playing game Chrono Trigger, Xenogears (1998) and Chrono Cross (1999). He is famous for the use of minimalism in his music. Inspired by Celtic and Japanese traditions, folk and jazz, many of his tunes merge cultures with just a few chords. His compositions frequently involve the use of the tabla, sitar, and Japanese shakuhachi flutes, and have been recreated at concerts around the world. (Procyon Studio)

4 / 10
Nobuo Uematsu of Final Fantasy VII (1997): Self-taught Japanese composer Nobuo Uematsu’s classical videogame compositions were known for their complicated and emotional themes, like the ‘One-Winged Angel’ that featured in the 1997 RPG Final Fantasy VII. The lyrics for the piece were taken from the Carmina Burana, a collection of 24 medieval poems. Uematsu’s compositions include a diverse mix of classical tunes with heavy metal and electronica. (Nintendo) expand-icon View Photos in a new improved layout
Updated on Jan 13, 2023 05:57 PM IST

Nobuo Uematsu of Final Fantasy VII (1997): Self-taught Japanese composer Nobuo Uematsu’s classical videogame compositions were known for their complicated and emotional themes, like the ‘One-Winged Angel’ that featured in the 1997 RPG Final Fantasy VII. The lyrics for the piece were taken from the Carmina Burana, a collection of 24 medieval poems. Uematsu’s compositions include a diverse mix of classical tunes with heavy metal and electronica. (Nintendo)

5 / 10
Akira Yamaoka of Silent Hill (1999): The Japanese composer’s unique score for the iconic survival-horror game is equal parts dark, haunting, and droning. It strikes a balance between melodic tunes composed on the guitar and synthesizer and field recordings that involve creaky, grating industrial sounds that keep the player on edge.  (Amazon) expand-icon View Photos in a new improved layout
Updated on Jan 13, 2023 05:57 PM IST

Akira Yamaoka of Silent Hill (1999): The Japanese composer’s unique score for the iconic survival-horror game is equal parts dark, haunting, and droning. It strikes a balance between melodic tunes composed on the guitar and synthesizer and field recordings that involve creaky, grating industrial sounds that keep the player on edge.  (Amazon)

6 / 10
Marty O’Donnell and Michael Salvatori of Halo: Combat Evolved (2002): By the early Aughts, videogame soundtracks were being released as music CDs. American composers Marty O’Donnell and Michael Salvatori got together to create the bestseller soundtrack of Halo: Combat Evolved (2002), which combined a wide range of musical styles, from a string orchestra to chanting and percussion. Drums accent powerful tracks such as Brothers in Arms and Perilous Journey, which help drive the on-screen action. (Amazon) expand-icon View Photos in a new improved layout
Updated on Jan 13, 2023 05:57 PM IST

Marty O’Donnell and Michael Salvatori of Halo: Combat Evolved (2002): By the early Aughts, videogame soundtracks were being released as music CDs. American composers Marty O’Donnell and Michael Salvatori got together to create the bestseller soundtrack of Halo: Combat Evolved (2002), which combined a wide range of musical styles, from a string orchestra to chanting and percussion. Drums accent powerful tracks such as Brothers in Arms and Perilous Journey, which help drive the on-screen action. (Amazon)

7 / 10
Christopher Tin of Civilization IV (2005): Baba Yetu, the theme song for the 2005 strategy-based game Civilization IV, put the Swahili version of The Lord’s Prayer to music and went on to win the first Grammy for Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s) in 2011. Created by American composer Christopher Tin, it was also played during the signing of a historic peace accord in Mozambique, in 2019.   (Grammy) expand-icon View Photos in a new improved layout
Updated on Jan 13, 2023 05:57 PM IST

Christopher Tin of Civilization IV (2005): Baba Yetu, the theme song for the 2005 strategy-based game Civilization IV, put the Swahili version of The Lord’s Prayer to music and went on to win the first Grammy for Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s) in 2011. Created by American composer Christopher Tin, it was also played during the signing of a historic peace accord in Mozambique, in 2019.   (Grammy)

8 / 10
Jeremy Soule of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (2011): The American composer has created soundtracks for over 60 games along with music for films and television. His composition for the swords-and-dragons epic, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, earned him a BAFTA nomination and is one of his most critically acclaimed pieces of work. The game’s theme song, Dragonborn, featuring lyrics in Dovahzul, a fictional dragon language, has spawned numerous covers. (Bethesda) expand-icon View Photos in a new improved layout
Updated on Jan 13, 2023 05:57 PM IST

Jeremy Soule of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (2011): The American composer has created soundtracks for over 60 games along with music for films and television. His composition for the swords-and-dragons epic, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, earned him a BAFTA nomination and is one of his most critically acclaimed pieces of work. The game’s theme song, Dragonborn, featuring lyrics in Dovahzul, a fictional dragon language, has spawned numerous covers. (Bethesda)

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Winifred Phillips of Assassin's Creed III: Liberation (2012): The BAFTA-nominated American composer has created tracks for some of the most famous gaming franchises, including Assassin's Creed, God of War, The Sims, Lineage and Total War. The music of Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation (2012), blended African drums, the flute and a string orchestra to represent the dual French and African ancestry of the lead character.    (Winifred Phillips) expand-icon View Photos in a new improved layout
Updated on Jan 13, 2023 05:57 PM IST

Winifred Phillips of Assassin's Creed III: Liberation (2012): The BAFTA-nominated American composer has created tracks for some of the most famous gaming franchises, including Assassin's Creed, God of War, The Sims, Lineage and Total War. The music of Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation (2012), blended African drums, the flute and a string orchestra to represent the dual French and African ancestry of the lead character.    (Winifred Phillips)

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Bobby Krlic of Returnal (2021): The British composer who goes by the pseudonym The Haxan Cloak recently won the award for Best Music at the 2022 BAFTA Games Awards, for his gripping score created for the third-person shooter game Returnal (2021). Melodic motifs break through haunting drones, creating a sound that is both beautiful and unsettling. Krlic also composed the soundtrack of the 2019 horror film Midsommar and the post-apocalyptic television drama Snowpiercer. (The Haxan Cloak / Instagram) expand-icon View Photos in a new improved layout
Updated on Jan 13, 2023 05:57 PM IST

Bobby Krlic of Returnal (2021): The British composer who goes by the pseudonym The Haxan Cloak recently won the award for Best Music at the 2022 BAFTA Games Awards, for his gripping score created for the third-person shooter game Returnal (2021). Melodic motifs break through haunting drones, creating a sound that is both beautiful and unsettling. Krlic also composed the soundtrack of the 2019 horror film Midsommar and the post-apocalyptic television drama Snowpiercer. (The Haxan Cloak / Instagram)

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